One in four (27%) people in Wales were unable to use the internet by themselves prior to lockdown, lacking the basic skills required to communicate, shop or bank online, the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index (CDI) has revealed.
- One in three (33%) people in Wales lack the ‘essential digital skills’ needed for day-to-day life online
- But, almost a third (29%) have boosted digital skills during lockdown
Technology is now a necessity for keeping connected, working remotely and accessing vital information. Research carried out before the introduction of lockdown restrictions showed that one in three (33%) of those surveyed in Wales lacked the digital skills needed for everyday life, with 15% being unable to connect a device to a Wi-Fi network, and one in ten (11%) unable to turn on a device and log into accounts or profiles they have.
However, in a separate poll carried out after lockdown measures were introduced, almost a third (29%) of people said they have now taken action to boost their digital skills for work, health and well-being during the crisis.
Carys Williams, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Wales, said:
“It’s great to see that so many people in Wales are improving their digital knowhow, with lockdown restrictions highlighting just how valuable these skills can be for managing in our day-to-day lives.
“Out of 11 UK regions examined in our research, Wales had the highest proportion of people without essential digital skills, and therefore has the most to gain. But with the support of friends, family and the free training available, there’s ample opportunity to improve the nation’s digital skills and keep us all better connected with our loved ones.
“We’ve been working with people across the country through our free online service, the Lloyds Bank Academy, to help those looking to upskill and learn new ways of operating online and improving their job opportunities for the future. I’d encourage anyone who’s started their digital journey to log on and find out more.”
Even before lockdown, people in Wales with high levels of digital engagement recognised the benefits of these skills, with almost eight in ten (78%) saying it helps them stay connected to friends and family, nearly half (46%) say it improved their ability to get a job, and more than a quarter (28%) reporting it helps manage and improve their physical and mental health.
Boosting skills in lockdown
In the last few weeks of UK lockdown, two thirds (66%) of people surveyed in Wales believe that the situation has escalated the need to be online, and eight out of 10 people (77%) have felt that technology has been a vital support during the outbreak.
More than a quarter (29%) across Wales have taken action and boosted their digital skills, with the same proportion (29%) reporting they have done so for work reasons, while more than a third (36%) are using technology more than usual to help with health and wellbeing.
Of those in Wales who have improved their skills, nearly half (49%) are self-taught, nearly a third (31%) are calling upon family members for support and just over a quarter (26%) are relying on friends.
Almost a third (29%) in Wales have also helped other people improve their digital skills during this period. Staying in touch with others is the most popular reason to ask for help, with almost three quarters (73%) of people helping their family members to use apps such as Zoom or WhatsApp. This is followed by banking and shopping cited by almost half of respondents (47%).
Encouragingly, more than half (55%) of people in Wales want to continue to boost their skills beyond the current climate, with almost one in five (17%) having used the time at home to do online learning to improve digital skills.
Stephen Noakes, Managing Director, Retail Transformation, Lloyds Bank, said:
“The impact of lockdown has brought into sharp focus just how important digital skills are, when all of a sudden it may be the only way for some people to stay connected to loved ones, buy food or get hold of other essential items such as medicine.
“While this unprecedented situation may have a greater impact on those who remain digitally excluded than those who are online, it is encouraging that this has focused people’s attention on digital capability as a vital life skill. We and many others have responded to this with extra support, including free training through our Academy, but more needs to be done to close the digital divide.”
Helping to address the digital divide
The latest Consumer Digital Index also shows that without any intervention, by 2030 a quarter of the UK will still have a very low level of digital engagement.
To help people improve their skills, Lloyds Bank is running online digital skills training via the Lloyds Bank Academy. Free webinars are held each week providing access to digital experts, training on key skills and opportunities for virtual networking to support individuals, local businesses and charities. Everyone can access free online resources at www.lloydsbankacademy.com.
In addition, through a new partnership with WeAreDigital, a specialist phone line has been introduced to help up to 20,000 customers access the internet and learn new skills to help with everyday digital tasks such as online shopping and connecting virtually with family and friends, as well as online banking. Over 20,000 of the Group’s Digital Champions are also using online volunteering platforms and telephone services to help the most vulnerable in society during this difficult time.